What do you cook when you come home after being away for weeks and the refrigerator is practically empty? We had soba noodle in a hot miso soup with some tofu thrown in. That’s resulted from finding a box of firm tofu and some miso paste in the fridge. There was also an open package of soba (buckwheat) noodle in the pantry. Voila! Can’t think of anything more soothing and healthful that can be put together quickly for a light meal after a long flight.
We went on an “insider’s Japan” trip with a Japanese history professor from my husband’s alma mater. Every hotel we stayed in Japan served a phenomenal miso soup for breakfast. Miso soup for breakfast is no longer a foreign concept to us. A friend on this trip has explained to us that miso soup is an essential part of her macrobiotic diet.
|Soba noodle in Ogimachi Village|
My husband and I were constantly at the heel of professor D and peppered him with loads of questions. While in Kyoto, we tacked along to his favorite soba noodle joint. (It’s hard to believe that it’s easier to find vegetarian restaurants in Kyoto than in Manhattan. There are also temple food served in Kyoto’s numerous shrines and temples. I had an entire meal served in tofu in a vegetarian restaurant.) We had a bowl of cold soba noodle in a clear broth for lunch. It was light, plain, comforting and palate cleansing. Now we are home in the U.S, our fascination and craving for miso and soba noodle continues.
Starting this week, we, the home cooks at IHCC, are rotating to a new chef, Heidi Swanson, for the next six months. Needless to say, I’m more than happy to have found this black sesame soba noodle recipe on her blog. This dish can’t be more exciting and timely given our recent immersion in Japanese cuisine and culture. Importantly, I’m expecting to get an extensive workout in her supernatural cooking style in the months ahead.
When my husband questioned whether the sauce in this noodle dish was one of the sauces I purchased in Japan, he was very surprised that I made the sauce from scratch. It was handmade the old-fashion way by pounding together black sesame seeds, pine nuts, the seasonal pumpkin seeds (instead of sunflower seeds), sugar, soy sauce, mirin, brown rice vinegar, sesame oil and cayenne pepper to the texture of black sand. Feel free to use the food processor. It is a time saver in making the paste and a smoother one too.
The look and flavor of the soba noodle seemed authentic enough that my husband was fooled. He also liked the coarseness of the paste without the peanut butter-like stickiness of a smooth paste. We had no problem finishing a big serving bowl of noodle I made. The critical component of this recipe is the black sesame paste, which can be made ahead. It is punchy and intensely flavored. It will enhance any noodle, grains, rice, vegetables, potatoes and soup dish. The only change I’d make is to decrease the amount of sugar in it.
|Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site|